Oscar Combs

Oscar Combs

Manuel, Perry County, Kentucky, USA
Death 17 May 1984 (aged 57)
Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, USA
Burial Manuel, Perry County, Kentucky, USA
Memorial ID 81644215 · View Source
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The oldest of 15 children (13 surviving), Oscar was born in Manuel, Kentucky and grew up during the great depression. The area was known as Grapevine, the name of the creek that ran along the local road, and is located in Perry County, 12 miles northwest of Hazard.

Before the age of nine, he was taking on the responsibility of watching four of his younger siblings while his mother did extensive chores outside, as his father was a miner and had little time for the work needed around the homestead. As a result, he did not finish elementary school and early in 1941, after the addition of two more siblings, the death of his grandfather and before his 14th birthday, he and his mother lied about his age and he joined the Army. He was on his way to Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941, prompting his mother to confess the lie, removing him from harm's way.

On February 18, 1946, he married Ethel June Davidson who was also from Perry County. To this union, Phyllis Combs was born on June 8, 1947 in a Blue Diamond Coal camp and 7 years later a son was born in Cincinnati. Oscar also had two more sons from later marriages.

Wanting a better life for his family, Oscar decided to leave his hometown in search of other opportunities. This led him and his family to the shipyards in Jacksonville, Florida where his wife's sister and brother-in-law were located. Afterwards, they relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio where he tried his hand in the food service industry. There he found what would end up being his life's work. He started with a local drive-in restaurant that was later emulated in other parts of the country, Sugar n' Spice, then worked for Frisch's Drive-Ins where he was trained by Dave Frisch.

Looking for a company that may afford him the opportunity for advancement, he went to work for Jerry's Drive-Ins. There he attained the position of Top Operations Manager in charge of all new store openings and supervision of all management personnel, reporting directly to Warren W. Rosenthal.

In 1965, he left Jerry's Drive-Ins and joined Bill Johnson at Country Kitchen®, opening his first restaurant in Woodlawn, a suburb of Cincinnati. In 1968, after opening his 5th location in 3 years, he secured an exclusive license for the Country Kitchen® trademarks in 6 states, and 27 counties in Ohio.

Over the years, Oscar opened 18 locations, operating at least 14 simultaneously, and consulted with the management of several others. He also sub-licensed 26 locations in the Cleveland, Ohio area and West Virginia. During this time, Oscar relied heavily on the expertise of Dick Amann and the services of General Fixture and Supply Company to equip all of his newly constructed and uniquely designed restaurants, as they equipped many other Country Kitchen® locations too.

Needing an efficient way to travel between the restaurants, he learned how to fly with instructions from Ted Kissel, and proved to be a very talented pilot by achieving an IFR and multi-engine rating. Ted quickly became a very close and valued lifelong friend.

In 1971, Oscar moved to Somerset, KY and in 1972 he built a home on a 127-acre farm with a private runway and homes for his parents and in-laws. He would live on this estate for the rest of his life. For relaxation, he always enjoyed spending time with his family and friends on the Ohio River or Lake Cumberland, where he kept a cabin cruiser or houseboat.

Family Members



Honest - Honorable

Gravesite Details This url will open a slideshow about Oscar Combs https://tinyurl.com/y7z8brss

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  • Created by: DOC
  • Added: 6 Dec 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 81644215
  • DOC
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Oscar Combs (15 May 1927–17 May 1984), Find A Grave Memorial no. 81644215, citing Combs Family Cemetery, Manuel, Perry County, Kentucky, USA ; Maintained by DOC (contributor 47670572) .